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Alexandra Kalle, super-nez

Or: scents and stinksDSC01821

I must confess, it’s something I had never really thought very much about: perfume. Even the origin of the word wasn’t entirely clear to me. Per= through. Fumare = to smoke. So: fumes from a burning substance = perfume. And someone who creates or designs perfumes is a perfumer – accent on the second syllable. It’s not clear how many perfumers there are worldwide (perhaps 500?) or in Germany (two dozen?). An elite member of this exclusive clique is Alexandra Kalle – my latest guest on Talking Germany.

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She began her career in marketing. And when she applied for a job in the marketing department of a perfume company they discovered, purely by chance, that she has remarkable olfactory capacities. She’s what they call in the business a nez, a nose! “I have terrible eyesight,” she tells me. “That’s normal. It’s one of the senses or the other.” Strange, I think, my eyesight is poor. But my sense of smell isn’t all that brilliant, either!

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Alexandra Kalle works for the manufacturer of the legendary 4711 Eau de Cologne perfume. She’s very stylish. Very professional. Very corporate. She oozes the sweet smell of success. But there’s no doubt about it: she’s passionate about perfume. This is after all the woman who admits that there were times when she would track people around Cologne, the city she calls home, and then, when she believed she’d worked out what perfume they were wearing, she would stop them and seek confirmation.

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For my part, I must say that I do adore scents like sandalwood, lavender, sweet orange and jasmine. A powerful combination they would make, in fact. I wonder what Alexandra would say? The world has so many beautiful fragrances, so many lovely scents. But there are, too, so many pongs and poohs, stinks and stenches, niffs and whiffs. I have to conclude that, in so many ways, I’m glad that I’m not a nez.

Date

July 25, 2014

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